Weather

Tropics Ramp Up to Peak That Includes Gulf Activity

The orange blob just north of the coast of South America is one we should watch.
The orange blob just north of the coast of South America is one we should watch. National Hurricane Center
We are now in the heart of the peak of hurricane season. The full season, which runs from June 1 through November 30, peaks in the second week of September, but begins its most active phase in mid August. This is especially true for states along the Gulf of Mexico. Activity for Texas typically begins to ramp up in mid-August (we already saw one hurricane in the Bay of Campeche just a week ago) and come to a rather screeching halt the last week of September. This year is no different.

Currently, the National Hurricane Center is tracking several storms or potential storms including one in the Caribbean which is likely to move into the Gulf and develop into...something. The NHC is giving the current blob a 60 percent chance of forming into a depression or storm.

Forecast models are having a difficult time predicting the track of the storm, partially because there isn't a center of circulation yet. Until that occurs, it is likely models will bounce around as they have already.

The American has been fairly consistently calling for landfall of a tropical storm or modest hurricane along the northern Mexican coast or extreme southern Texas. The European, on the other hand, has the storm turning north and heading toward Louisiana or the upper Texas coastline. That's a spread of nearly 1,000 miles.

The models do have some recent history here. Hurricane Grace followed a similar, albeit more southerly, track into Mexico just days ago. But, atmospheric conditions have changed and the models cannot seem to agree on how much high pressure over the central United States will affect any potential storm. Will it push it south of us or will it weaken and allow the storm to turn north?

Given that we are right in the middle of either scenario means this is a storm that bears watching.

And if that weren't enough, another potential storm, roughly a week behind this one, could be brewing. As we said, we are at the peak of the season so this is not unexpected.

If you were wondering, yes, the Gulf is plenty warm enough to support hurricane intensification and there is little to suggest this storm, with time over water, wouldn't be able to become a major hurricane. We are still nearly a week from any landfall and plenty to consider, so no need to panic.

Just keep an eye on the tropics. About a month from now, we can forget about hurricanes for another year.
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Jeff Balke is a writer, editor, photographer, tech expert and native Houstonian. He has written for a wide range of publications and co-authored the official 50th anniversary book for the Houston Rockets.
Contact: Jeff Balke